One thing to do before you die (and it’s not making a Will)

Being a Will Writer

Part of what makes my job as a writer of Wills so wonderful is getting to know my clients. We have no clocks in our meetings, sorting out your Will will take as long as it takes because we charge fixed fees. By taking the time to hear what makes people tick, we very often unearth information which is extremely relevant to making a Will. Sometimes, though, we just hear nice stories, as was the case with some recent clients, Mr and Mrs W from Essex.

Mrs W’s father had an interesting life. Not tales of swashbuckling world travel and enormous riches, but an ordinary life well lived with lots of funny, interesting and sad stories to tell. Mrs W had always told her father that he should write these things down. It wasn’t until after he had died and they were going through his papers that they found out that he had. They almost missed it too, being mixed up with various other projects he had worked on. But there it was, a typed manuscript of his life, with lots of photos too.

Why write your memoirs?

So why had he decided to write his memoirs? Because he believed (and I do now) that he had had a good life and was grateful for it. He wanted his own family to be inspired in bad times and good times, while also learning from his mistakes. He wanted the next generations of his family to be aware of where they came from, with lots of details about his own parents and grandparents, bringing them to life from out of the family tree. And maybe a little part of him wanted to be remembered.

Although I never met him, I found it rather emotional reading through the memoirs, telling stories about the people I was sitting opposite and their families. Though I only read a small part of it, I had an enormous sense of happiness from him.

I have spent the last 14 years telling people that the one document you need to get in place before you die is a Will, but now my advice might be slightly tempered. Yes, make a Will (you don’t get off that easily) but why not think about what else your legacy could be, and write your memoirs? And don’t leave either of them too late.

Stephen Wilkes

Head of Estate Planning

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